As part of UniteWithUkraine's (UWU) ongoing series, Who Are Our Donors?, we profile Dr Jim Reynolds of Knoxville, Tennessee.
Dr Reynolds has been a generous donor to the UniteWithUkraine campaign and an early stakeholder in our ongoing effort to help the defenders of Ukraine. UWU asked Dr. Reynolds about why he is motivated to help the Ukrainian people and why he chose to invest in the UWU campaign.
Can you please tell us a little about yourself?
Dr. Reynolds: I am a retired family doctor living in Knoxville, Tennessee, with my wife, Cindy. We have four adult children, all living independently - Thank goodness! I practiced outpatient medicine in east Tennessee from 1986 until 2017. My wife and I like to travel, eat out, go to movies, and read. I do quite a bit of flyfishing, enjoy chess, pool, and bike and swim regularly for fitness. For the past 10 years, I’ve been volunteering one and sometimes two days a week at the Free Medical Clinic of Oak Ridge. This clinic provides free medical and vision care to anyone in a three-county area who does not have health insurance.
You mentioned that you once had an adventure in Russia, can you tell us about that experience?
Dr. Reynolds: About ten years ago, one of our daughters, Liz, was teaching Russian through the Fulbright program in Vladivostok, Russia. I flew over to Vladivostok to visit for a week. Shortly after arrival, without explanation, I was taken to a back room by the Russian authorities and held there for five hours. No one spoke a word of English to me during this time. The two men holding me appeared to know no English, refusing to respond to my queries. My daughter, who speaks fluent Russian, was finally able to convince them to release me. To this day we have no idea why this occurred.
Here in the US, democracy is a large part of what protects our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Without it, things like what happened to me in the Vladivostok airport haunt a country’s inhabitants. Democracy is what prevents those in power from holding someone arbitrarily for five hours or five years. Consider the case of Brittney Griner.
It is what guarantees us the freedom to pursue our dreams. Democracy is on the decline around the globe. For example, The Economist rates democracy in over 150 countries around the world. These rankings change over time, showing this decline clearly.
How did you become interested in helping the defenders of Ukraine?
Dr. Reynolds: As a student of history, I know that many have died trying to obtain this democracy. The people of Ukraine have lived under tyranny before, and I suspect, value their relatively new freedoms. I feel that, as a democratic world superpower, the US needs to stand with other democracies to maintain democracy around the world.
The last time we had a tyrant trying to take over countries in Europe was 1939-1940 at the beginning of World War II. The US made the same mistake then that we are making now.
Putin will not stop on his own. He must be stopped. We either do it in Ukraine by providing serious military aid to the brave Ukrainian soldiers or we will need to do it later in Poland or France, including American troops on the ground.
Why did you choose to entrust your gift to UWU?
Dr. Reynolds: Because of my feelings above, I was searching for a way to help the Ukrainian people or defenders of Ukraine financially. I did Google searches. The only thing I found was the Ukrainian World Congress’s Unite with Ukraine campaign.
This organization promised to send bullet proof vests, communication equipment, etc. – it was just what I was looking for! I found the representatives of Unite with Ukraine to be extremely helpful, informative, and easy to work with.
Thank you, Dr. Reynolds, those are kind comments - we work hard to earn our generous stakeholders trust and make sure their gifts are put quickly to use on the ground in Ukraine.
Dr. Reynolds: The Strategic Advisory Council session [UWU press conference with retired military generals on July 26] was fascinating, very in-depth analysis from seasoned military veterans. As a suggestion, I wonder if a 24-hour phone donation line accepting contributions through credit card might be helpful at increasing donations.
That is a great suggestion, we will certainly take it under advisement. Thank you again for being a generous donor to UWU!
An initiative of the Ukrainian World Congress, #UniteWithUkraine is a global fundraising initiative that enables anyone, anywhere to show their support for the Ukrainian people as they fight for freedom, human rights and democracy. Funds raised will be used for supplying an evolving range of needs to people on the front line, including: IFAK - first aid kits; bullet-proof vests and helmets; night-vision goggles; communication equipment and fuel, among other things.
The UWC is also leading global coordination and logistics for the Ukrainian community and other NGO support efforts.
For more information or to donate, please visit our donation pages.
About the Ukrainian World Congress
Over the past 55 years, UWC has been the voice of the global Ukrainian community. Representing the interests of 20 million Ukrainians living more than 60 countries around the world, the UWC has been actively supporting human rights and democracy in Ukraine. UWC is recognized by the United Nations Economic and Social Council as a non-governmental organization with special consultative status and has a participatory status as an international non-governmental organization with the Council of Europe.
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The world needs to do more to step up and defend Ukraine's democratic right to determine its own future. We know you agree. Please give what you can.